Monday, January 14, 2013

Blog Design is All About the Content

A college professor once told me that design should be like a wine glass - beautiful, useful, and clear. A well designed glass doesn't usually draw much attention to itself. It's main aesthetic job is to show off the wine.

Some writers have a similar goal, making their prose a window through which you see the story. They try to draw people into the story, doing their best to make readers forget they're even holding a book.

Blog design should be the same way. Think for a moment about what the most important part of your blog is. That's right! The posts! As you make design decisions about your blog, ask yourself if the change you're making will enhance or detract from your posts. Here are a few bad examples:

Giant Headers

I know people really want an awesome header, and sometimes it takes room to pack in all the awesomeness. Just remember that after the first few times people visit your blog, the header won't dazzle them as much and they'll really want to get to your posts. Headers that push posts down make it harder for readers to get to what matters most.

This principle should be followed in moderation. Headers can also be so anemic that they lose all character. I'm not saying that you can't have fun with your header.

Background Transparencies

I like a good transparency as well as the next person, but I can tell a bad design when the background is swimming in and out of the text. A background design behind text is almost never a good idea. If you do go for it, be sure to fade it waaaaay back. Don't muddy the water so it's hard to read your posts.

Other Considerations

You might also want to consider the width for your main column. Too wide, and the eye gets tired. Too narrow, and the posts no longer seem to be the main event. Pick out a few blogs where your eyes feel comfortable reading the text and try to imitate what they're doing well.

Don't pick wacky fonts that are harder to read. Stick with the tried and true. Make sure your text is big enough on modern screen resolutions.

Text likes to breathe a little bit. Proper leading can make reading a paragraph much more pleasant.

That's all for now. If you have any questions, or would like me to offer a quick critique on your blog design, feel free to leave a comment, or contact me on facebook.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Meet David Powers King

A few years ago I attended a League of Utah Writers meeting at the library. I was a new writer, looking  for friends who could help me take it to the next level. I'd been to a few before, so I didn't expect anything out of the ordinary. I didn't know that my writing would be forever changed by that night.

This guy named David invited me to attend his writing group. At the time, I declined. I had already arranged to join a writing group that someone else had planned to set up. I remember being shocked at the time that he would be so kind to a total stranger. But if you know David, this doesn't surprise you.

That writing group never happened, and months later I saw David again at a book signing. We stood together in line and chatted. I told him I was interested in joining his writing group if the invitation was still good.

I've been in the same writing group with him ever since, and my writing goals took a leap forward. Here are a few ways in which he's helped me:

  1. I hid behind him at a conference in Logan while he chatted with authors at their tables like they were old friends. (They were.) I gained confidence in talking with authors just by standing close to him.
  2. I started inkPageant, a website dedicated to collecting useful blog posts about writing. It's true that I put in a lot of work to launch that website, but David has spent countless hours moderating posts for that website, and I'm extremely grateful to him. This man knows how to blog — not just because he does it, but because he's seen a lot of other blogs out there. If you ask him, he can tell you who does it right and how.
  3. His dedication to writing has inspired me. I know how hard it is to hold down a full-time job, raise a growing family, and still make time for writing. David does that and more. 

I feel privileged to get a sneak peek at his newest works, including his newest middle-grade zombie novel. I'm going to be surprised if that doesn't get snapped up by a publisher. I've already seen kids riveted by it.

Being in the same writing group with David has meant a lot to me. I follow in his footsteps. He's taught me so much about writing and publishing. That's still what we talk about most. But even more than the help he's given me in my writing, I value his friendship.

If you haven't already, check out his blog:

Who has helped you take your writing to the next level?